Although several rounds exist these days including the Ramsey and Paddy Buckley, it is the Bob Graham round with its wonderful history that captures the imagination and is the true father of the 24 hour challenge.
It took 28 years for Bobs round to be repeated by Alan Heaton. Since that time something like 1,600 other people have completed the round. One of the great things about the Bob Graham round is that it is achievable by most people if they are fit enough and have the desire to do it.
Having established its credentials, the next task with regards to the Bob Graham round was how fast could it be done? This is where Billy Bland hits the scene completing the round in a rip snorting time of 13 hours 53 minutes, considerably faster than anyone else even to this day. It is even more impressive as back in 1982 only about 250 people had completed the round at all.
It is hard to conceive the driving force necessary to maintain Billys pace over such a distance. In a race it is sometimes possible to go a little bit faster in order to beat another competitor, but to be out there by yourself, way faster than any other person and keep going shows extreme dedication.
Interestingly in 2010 it will be 28 years since Billy Bland completed the round in his record time, the same time span it took for Alan Heaton to simply follow in Bob Grahams footsteps. Perhaps 2010 may be the year in which the record is broken, but even if it is broken, such a competitor will have had a target to beat.
Running this race with no set start time or people to follow, gives the competitors a taste of what it was like for Billy Bland, to be out on the fells operating at top notch with no other competitors other than your partner, will be a new experience for many runners.